Magistrate appointed National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention
Dr Bernadette Boss CSC, who has served as a magistrate, coroner and barrister, has been named as the new interim National Commissioner for Defence and Veteran Suicide Prevention.
Dr Boss has, since 2012, been a magistrate and coroner of the ACT Magistrates Court as well as holding various command and staff roles in the Australian Defence Force, where she was awarded a Conspicuous Service Cross.
Moreover, she has practised as a barrister in Australia and the UK, primarily in the areas of family law, criminal law, administrative law and human rights law.
Speaking about the appointment, Attorney-General Christian Porter said that Dr Boss’ “significant experience” makes her well placed to “engage with the families, friends and communities affected by the loss of a loved one”.
“Her office will be truly independent and deliver genuine transparency as it helps to uncover the root causes and contributing factors in ADF member and veteran deaths by suicide,” he said.
Subject to passage of legislation currently before the Parliament, Dr Boss’ role will be formalised as the national commissioner with powers broadly equivalent to a royal commission to: “inquire into the circumstances of past and future ADF member and veteran deaths by suicide, including suspected deaths by suicide; hear about the impact of ADF member and veteran deaths by suicide on families and others who are affected; make findings and recommendations to the Australian Government; and promote the understanding of suicide risks for ADF members and veterans, and factors that can improve the wellbeing of ADF members and veterans”.
Dr Boss said it is an “honour” to be tasked with addressing this important issue which is disproportionately impacting Australia’s defence and veteran community.
“I know many families, serving and ex-serving ADF members and others who have been calling for action in response to these tragic deaths. I want to hear their stories,” she said.
The government has also announced the terms of reference for the Independent Review of Past Defence and Veteran Suicides which Dr Boss will commence upon appointment.